martutene

The latest addition to my website is Ramon Saizarbitoria‘s Martutene (Martutene). This is a mammoth (816 pages) Basque novel, that has claims to being the Great Basque Novel. Primarily, it tells the stories of two couples. One couple is Martin, a successful Basque short story writer who is trying to write his first novel, and Julia whose husband was a Basque freedom fighter/terrorist, who has been killed, and who is translating Martin’s stories – often about their relationship – into Spanish. The other couple are both doctors, he a gynaecologist and she a neurosurgeon. Both relationships are under stress as all four have had or are having affairs. We also have an epidemiologist is who is bored with her marriage and is trying to find a man she bumped into, on a plane. We know who he is and, indeed, he plays a role in the book; she does not know who he is or what his name is. While about relationships and their difficulties, this book is about much more. It is about the Basques and Basqueness. It is about violence and death. It is about writing and literature. The main characters struggle with these issues and with who they are. It is a first-class novel and we must be grateful to Hispabooks for making it available in English.